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CES 2011 preview: 10 products and trends you’ll see in Vegas

At the risk of being a Grinch and spoiling your excitement for whatever gadgets Santa planted under your tree this year, they’re about to look antiquated. The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the largest tech exhibition in the United States, is now only a week away. Typically, CES has been a fall show where much of what exhibitors show off won’t actually find its way to shelves until the second half of the year, but the market moves too quickly now and most of what you ‘ll see will actually show up in the first half.

One of the things you won’t see is Google TV, because the initial reviews were so bad that Google wants to pull back and finish the product. As with all CES shows, I expect we’ll wish a few other companies had decided to do the same.


Unfinished tablets

Unfortunately, Google won’t be ready for tablets until the 2.4 release of Android, and 2.3 just came out. This means that while the show will be awash with tablets, most will be junk, and there is a chance that Apple will announce an early refresh for the iPad just to screw things up. The tablet efforts worth paying attention to in 2011 will be the HP-Palm product, and RIM’s PlayBook. Of the two, only the PlayBook is truly ready for public consumption, though HP could have a spoiler early preview, or a hint of the Palm. So, while there will be a massive amount of tablets at the show, most folks will likely still prefer the iPad, unless RIM pulls an upset.


iPad accessories

However, what will be at the show is a massive number of iPad accessories. Expect car mounts, wall mounts, innovative chargers, better cases and keyboards, screen protectors, and anything that can be thought up and pumped out of factories in Asia. Booster batteries and a rather impressive number of applications will likely make this CES a coming-out party for the only major CE product that won’t actually be showcased at the show. It remains somewhat ironic that CES is increasingly a showcase for Apple, even though Apple doesn’t participate.


3D content

3D TVs aren’t selling very well this year, but at CES 2011 you will suddenly see a surge of 3D content pouring out for them. Last CES was more like a teaser, with hardware but nothing really to show on it. This CES promises to fix that with products that not only showcase 3D better, but that can convert 2D DVDs into 3D-like products. Look for much lower cost active-shutter glasses, big drops in 3D TV prices and lots of stunning content for both displays.


Superphones

We had a warning of this a few days ago when LG announced its first Nvidia-Tegra-2-based superphone. Slated to be the next big thing in the smartphone wars, these multi-core machines should drive vastly better multi-tasking while improving both single- and multi-threaded application performance. Most, if not all, of these phones should offer 4G as well, providing what may be the biggest single bump in performance ever, and giving us an early look at what might be in the fifth-generation iPhone. And if it isn’t, the fifth-generation iPhone may look old at launch. (I’m betting Jobs won’t let that happen).


AMD Fusion

I have been seeing a huge number of relatively small, high-performance notebooks using AMD’s new Fusion architecture as vendors ramp up for their CES presentations. Small, light, fast, and cheap, they represent AMD’s best answer to the question of what should be in a laptop computer. CES is AMD’s big chance to show it can truly take Intel to the mat, and the company and partners will enter with guns blazing.